webmasterMarch 21, 2017March 21, 2017The Internet of Things (IoT) may seem like a futuristic proposition for your next meeting or trade show; something that will occur in 2020 or beyond. Believe me, it is closer than you think. Some innovative planners and venues are using it today to provide a better attendee experience and contain their event costs. If you are new to this concept, let’s explain what IoT is and how you might use it in both simple and complex ways. What is the Internet of Things? The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of physical objects that have an IP address for internet connectivity. Communication occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems. For example, a smartphone, tablet or digital assistant (Alexa, Google Home) will soon be able to start your car, turn on your alarm system remotely and defrost your refrigerator with a verbal command. At your event, the same concept will occur but it will monitor and control different aspects based on apps. Let’s take a deeper dive into how your events will be affected by IoT. iBeacons Equipped with Bluetooth capabilities, iBeacons determine the physical location of other portable electronic devices, such as tablets and cell phones, and can send messages or push notifications to those devices. As of right now, this is an Apple only product solution, but look for that to change in the next year. Trade show exhibitors can send messages to targeted attendees when they are within a certain range, attendees can check-in to a session for educational credit or you can send an alert to all attendees in a general session. RFID Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is already here on credit and debit cards. It had some risks (stolen identities), but much of those risks have been corrected with stronger encryption. RFID wristbands and badges can be used for the event check-in process, program payments, continuing education credit, tracking where attendees are and even for gamification purposes. Smart Catering In order to cut down on wasted food and drink, look for Artificial Intelligent (AI) software to help catering managers and planners to schedule when to brew the next pot of coffee or bring out a specific plate of appetizers. An automated checkout system for food and beverages using barcode or RFID scanners can keep an accurate accounting of catering items that belong on your master bill, which will be especially helpful if there are multiple meetings going on at the same venue. Managing Meeting Room Dynamics Using a smartphone or tablet app, venue staff can control the lighting, temperature, sound system and security of each meeting room. They can do this inside or outside of the room (within so many feet). Look for verbal commands to come into play this year and more functionality as more and more buildings and products become IoT-compliant. Smart Thermostats and Remote Lighting are already on the market. As wearables become better and have more AI integrated into the design, look for them to control all of the items listed above and more. Parking Lot Availability Rather than driving up and down a vast parking lot or going up multiple ramps looking for a space, cameras will continuously scan the parking lot and send an alert to your attendees’ smartphone about what spaces are available from the closest to the farthest one away from their current location. Hartford Technology Rental Believes in IoT We will continue to watch and delve into the connectivity and implementation plans of the Internet of Things. As attendees continue to demand a personalized experience at meetings and events, look for IoT to guide them to the best sessions, the right trade show exhibitors and the ability to connect with the attendees they came there to meet. If you need to rent a laptop, rent a computer or iPad, rest assured that we will pre-configure each rental with the right app to support your IoT initiative. Start saving today by clicking here for a quick quote.